Israel had come so close to Canaan that they could send spies into the land. These twelve men returned and reported that it was a good land and large, a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord had promised them.
Nevertheless, ten of the twelve, in their unbelief, succeeded in winning the people over to their side, in spite of Moses and Aaron and God. In their blind bitterness they were on the point of stoning the two spies who urged them to be loyal to the Lord.
But then the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle and the Lord threatened to destroy all the obstinate people.
Their faithful leader was not to lose anything on that account; for the Lord promised to raise up to Moses a stronger and mightier people.
What a wonderful future for Moses!
Then something remarkable happened. Moses, facing such a great future began to plead with God to spare and to forgive the miserable people. He did not seek his own glory and honor; he wanted to share with his weak and stumbling brethren.
Moses had cast his lot with Israel. He had chosen to suffer afflictions with the people of God. And in the day of battle and during many trying years, when he was misunderstood by his own who were bitter against him and plagued his soul--he was loyal to his choice and his people even then.
He had the heart of a true shepherd.
For the Israelite it became a question of life or Death. It was more than that. God's honor was at stake. Moses saw this and reminded the Lord of it. How his honor would suffer among the heathen if His people were destroyed in the desert. That would mean that the Lord was not able to lead His people into the Promised Land--but slew them in the wilderness. Num.14:16.
"And now, I beseech thee," Moses prayed, "let the power of my Lord be great, according as Thou hast spoken. . . . Pardon, I beseech Thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of Thy mercy, and as Thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now." Num.14:17, 19.
Moses prayed with a burning zeal--for the good of others. And the Lord forgave them.
Talk about conquering prayer! Here is victory.
Thou hast forgiven them the whole way from Egypt until now. That was a long and lasting forgiveness.
And a forgiveness which continued in answer to Moses' intercessory prayer. Such forgiveness we also need, you and I: a forgiveness which lasts the whole way-- clear to the heavenly Canaan. Nothing less than that can save us.
But that forgiveness we do have in our Great Advocate and High Priest, who entered into the holy of holies and won an eternal redemption. He "in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." Ephesians 1:1
We have redemption.
We have the forgiveness of sins. In Him the forgiveness is safe and secure. Not in you or in your godliness. But in Him. For He is the Righteous One, and in Him we possess forgiveness, full and free, the whole way home.
So I come to Thee, my Savior, in the midst of my misery and sin, which I recognize in myself and which plagues and pains me and makes me discouraged. Thou dost not thrust me aside; Thou hast written my name in Thy hands. Thou wilt not deny a poor sinner the grace which Thou didst secure at such a price.
"My little children, these things write I unto you that ye sin not and if any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." -1 John 2:12.
That ye sin not--for this cause the apostle wrote his epistle. He wants to give his children the help which will carry them through: a God who is the source of light and holiness; and if they walked in His light they have fellowship with Him and with one another, and they are cleansed through the blood of His Son.
Where is there a better help against sin?
But, oh, if any man sin!
He knew what would happen; He knew whereof we are made. And the old Jesus-apostle does not desert the poor sinner, but points him to the Great Helper who never tires of praying for His weak friends. He is the Righteous One who atoned for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. In Him there is forgiveness and restoration--even today.
If any man sin.
The proof that you are born again is not that you are able to stand without falling and defeat, but that you after the fall go to God with sin as sin.
The honest Christian is distressed in his soul over sin and does not seek to avoid meeting God, but he seeks God to tell Him all, to tell Him of his great need and utter helplessness.
He who does this is born again.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." l John1:9.
O Jesus, Lord, to Thee I cry;
Unless thou help me I must die:
Oh bring Thy free salvation nigh,
And take me as I am.
It was probably hard to believe the forgiveness of sins the first time you surrendered to God.
But disobedience and falls after your conversion often make it far harder to believe in the forgiveness of sins. "That it should come to this in my Christian life! I who have experienced God's forgiving grace! But my sinful nature is still holding me down, and the many sins in my evil flesh cause me distress." This is often the complaint of an honest soul--and he is pained and humbled in his poor, timid heart. He has reason to grieve. For it is sin to sin for every one; and much more so far one who has tasted that the Lord is good.
But do not increase and aggravate your sin by doubting the all-sufficient grace of God and by keeping back from the Word of forgiveness. Don't make yourself a god after your own image. He is greater than your thoughts and feelings are making Him out to be.
For it is still true that where sin abounds, grace abounds even more.
When the children of Israel were bitten by fiery, poisonous snakes as a punishment f or sin, they died. But God commanded Moses to make a serpent of brass and to put it upon a pole. When the dying one beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
But it no doubt happened that an Israelite might be bitten again after he had experienced healing. Could he even then behold the brazen serpent and live?
Yes, he surely could.
This is brought out so well in the new Norse translation of Num. 21:9 "Then Moses made a serpent of brass and put it upon a pole, and every time the snakes had bitten someone and he looked over toward the serpent of brass, he was given life."
That is a healing you and I need. And in Him, whom the serpent of brass is pointing toward--the Son of I man, who was lifted up upon the cross--in Him we have healing.
In Him we have a lasting, enduring forgiveness--a forgiveness that will continue all the way, until we are home.
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